Daniel Kirk in his article further below states the necessity as Christians to support the "Marriage-Equality Act" or Gay Marriage bill, passed in New York State on June 14, 2011. Not because we would condone gay marriage or homosexuality, but because the civil rights of gays and lesbians must be allowed and protected for a whole host of reasons. And though this may mean that by this legislation we inadvertently "free" people to do what we believe is wrong or sinful, we must do so in a socially constructive way granting justice to all segments of American society and not just some segments of our society (as argued in the next article - http://relevancy22.blogspot.com/2011/06/new-york-approves-gay-marriage.html).
If you must, I urge you to read and re-read Kirk's article below until you understand the force of his argument. For it shows the many innuendos that can come out of this bill if it is not passed. It is the only right thing that we can do given the incorporated laws of this land. For America is not a non-religious country but a pluralistic constituency primarily founded in Christian principals but necessarily yielding to other religious and humanitarian expressions of its democratic laws as it must underneath its current enactments of charters and government.
And though I believe Christianity expresses democracy's ideals the best (despite Christian-Americans oft refusals to practice those ideals), the United States Constitution speaks to all citizenry's religious freedoms and not just to those who are Christian. Consequently, as democratized Christians, we must legally accept and actively articulate America's incorporation of all its citizenry's beliefs and practices, regardless of religious or non-religious preference and practice. It is both Constitutional as well as democratic.
However, by the very nature of pluralism, we may see a dilution of basic human rights and freedoms through succeeding legal interpretations as America moves from its originating Christian idealisms to a postmodernistic pan-theism of religious expression. To hope in the superiority of humanistic idealism may be to belatedly discover a grossly failing sub-standard from that of Christianity's ultimate expression vouchsafed through Scripture's witness and testimony. One found in the biblical records of its faith adherents (known as the remnant of God) - both in the highs and the lows of their faith observance. For their errors and failings can be as instructive as their successful faith observance to God's laws. And this is true for us as well - both as individuals and as a democratic society.
And yet the hope of Scripture is that of incorporating all men and women of all nations and cultures, heritages and religious practices, into a heavenly kingdom that is at once pluralistic, trans-national and trans-cultural. Importantly, the Scriptures also note that it is God's Son and divine/human representative Jesus, who is both the center and foundation for this pluralistic postmodern society. Not Buddha, not Mohammad, not humanism, not a religion other than that of Christ. For this is the heart of Christianity's "future" and its millennial hope of destiny.
For if the Kingdom of God is the template for America's Constitutional form of government - as it could be for any nation on earth - than there can be hope. But to the extent that we move away from Christ than I deem our society to eventually fail in the very pluralism that it legally espouses and defends. By this very act of choice must each succeeding American generation determine its understandings and responsibilities as a free society unguardedly open to all walks and manners of living. We cannot force this line of observance but must demonstrate by our societal behaviors and responses how this democratic ideal may be obtained. For if we were to force our religious preferences upon an American society composed of a multitude of ethnicities and lifestyles then we would but create disharmony, dissonance, anarchy and perhaps revolution. Which may or may not succeed in emulating America's earlier idealisms and laws, and could be much the worse for the conflict created.
Advisedly, it would be better to support our current system of government - to lift it up when others decry it, to make it strong for the weak, more just for the ridiculed, wise for the foolish, courageous for the despised, receptive to the downtrodden. It is to each succeeding generation's charter of obligations to better present and expand the ideals of democracy than the previous generation's presentation, while preventing those who would trample it casually or selfishly, ruthlessly or blindly, from its undoing. For opportunity requires leadership --> leadership requires wisdom --> wisdom demands justice --> justice creates vision --> and vision sees opportunity.
June 27, 2011
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by J.R. Daniel Kirk
posted June 25, 2011
New York’s state legislature has approved a gay marriage bill, and governor Andrew Cuomo has signed it into law.
As the states take up this issue one-by-one, I’ll keep working out my thoughts on the issue. I think that this is a complex issue for Christians. Here’s what it comes down to for me:
As long as the state is in the marriage business, Christians should support gay marriage as an embodiment of our calling to love our neighbor as ourselves
First, I understand that there is a strong religious argument for the “definition” of marriage being the joining of one man and one woman. However, the state is not in the business of adhering to or adjudicating religious principles.
Second, to my mind, the best possible scenario is this: (1) the state does not marry anyone or recognize anyone’s marriage; (2) the state performs civil unions for any two persons who wish to join their lives for mutual support; (3) these civil unions are performed by civil servants, not ministers of the churches; and (4) churches can marry before God whomever they deem fit to marry in accordance with their religious convictions.
However, since this is not the case, and since the state has chosen to assign certain rights and privileges to married couples, people with religious convictions have to figure out not one problem, but two.
First, what do we think about homosexuality within the context of our religious community of faith?
But then the second, related but separable question is, What do we think about homosexual marriage within the state in which we find ourselves?
Here’s where, historically, Christians have done poorly: we have failed to realize that our answer to Question 1 does not determine that we attempt to enforce that answer as we take up Question 2.
I want to suggest that even those of us who do not support gay marriage within our faith communities have an obligation to support it in civil law as an expression of our calling to love our neighbor as ourselves.
What if there were a law that schools could only teach evolution and had to teach evolution in Biology class? I don’t mean that public schools had to do this, but all schools and educational programs had to adhere to this. What if we didn’t have the freedom to enact our wrongheaded desire to deny evolution and embrace creationism as an alternative?
If we want the freedom to make our own religious decisions about education and our view of the world and how to best educate our children, we are required to secure for those who disagree with us about every religious decision the freedom to enact their irreligious or non-religious or differing religious understanding of what a fruitful life here on earth looks like.
Similarly, what if our law-makers increasingly enacted provisions of sharia law? Do we want people determining what we can and can’t eat based on religious convictions with which we don’t agree? We’ve grown to anticipate that our representatives in various state legislature will enact laws for justice that do not infringe on our own free practice.
As Christians, we need to learn how to hold our own religious views while seeking liberty and justice for all–not just those who happen to believe as we do. In part, this will mean that we free people to do what we would believe is wrong.
: About J.R. Daniel Kirk: